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Bow Wow Leaving Lil Days In The Past

Of the Oakland Press

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Bow Wow’s doing a bit of two-timing these days — but don’t be offended, ladies. It’s with his fellas.

The 20-year-old rapper from Columbus, Ohio, originally known as Lil’ Bow Wow, releases a new album next week — “Face Off,” his first full-length collaboration with good pal and Scream Tour cohort Omarion. But instead of hitting the road with him, Bow Wow has joined forces with Chris Brown for this month’s Up Close & Personal Holiday Exclusive Tour.

“Me and O, we’re gonna go out next summer,” explains Bow Wow, who was born Shad Gregory Moss. “This tour (with Brown) was a deal I had signed on earlier in the year, before we had signed our contracts to record the ‘Face Off ’ album. So I was already in contract to do the tour and couldn’t get out of it.

“I’m not saying I wanted to get out of it, either. I’m very excited about the tour. We’re all friends, so it’s all good — for all of us.”

Touring with Brown is certainly no hardship scenario. It ensures big crowds; the platinum R&B singer’s second album, “Exclusive,” debuted at No. 4 on the Billboard charts last month and has already been certified gold. And the two have a musical connection; Bow Wow busts a rhyme on a remix of Brown’s 2005 hit “Run It,” while Brown sang on Bow Wow’s 2006 single “Shortie Like Mine.”

“We’re friends. We work good together,” notes Bow Wow, whose fifth solo album, “The Price of Fame,” came out a year ago, peaking at No. 6, while he also guested on the R. Kelly single “I’m a Flirt.” “We’ve got stuff we can do together, so it works out to be on tour together.”

But Bow Wow doesn’t hide the fact that he’s most excited about the “Face Off” album, which he and Omarion — Omari Ishmael Grandberry, formerly of the vocal group B2K — recorded over four months earlier this year with producers such as Rick Rubin, T-Pain, Jermaine Dupri (who produced the first single, “Girlfriend”) and Bryan Michael Cox, among others.

“The album is just ridiculous, man,” Bow Wow gushes. “You got two guys who are hungry. You got two guys who are dedicated. You got two guys who love and are very passionate about what they do, which is music.

“It’s a real album, man. It’s a real musical puttogether album. From No. 1 to the end, I know everybody is just gonna enjoy it.”

“Face Off” mixes club tracks and ballads, and Bow Wow says he and Omarion feel like they were able to show somewhat more mature — and assured — sides of themselves on sexier fare such as “Bachelor Pad,” “He Ain’t Gotta Know” and “Take Off Your Clothes.”

“It’s an edgier, mature record — kinda raunchy,” Bow Wow explains. “But I think people get it confused, man. Omarion is 23 years old. I’m getting ready to turn 21, so we’re grown men now. Of course, we’re gonna talk about grown men topics.

“These are the things our fans are interested in hearing from us. They want to know where Omarion is right now. They want to know where Bow Wow is as a person right now. They want to know the things we’re doing, the things that we’re going through, so it’s only right that we don’t hide that information from our fans.”

Bow Wow is committed enough to “Face Off” that he’s putting his acting career — which includes roles in “Like Mike” “Roll Bounce” and “The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift,” as well as on the TV shows “Moesha” and “Smallville” — on hold at the moment to concentrate on the album in 2008. And, he adds, “Face Off” will definitely be a part of what he does this year while out on the road with Brown.

“I’m gonna bring (Omarion) out with me when we get a chance,” Bow Wow notes, “and I’ll be doing songs from the album and promoting it. Everybody knows I’m doing an album with O. I don’t want anybody to be confused; O is gonna be part of anything I’m doing because of ‘Face Off.’ He’s gonna be part of it, whether he’s actually there or not.”

Bow Wow performs with Chris Brown, Soulja Boy, Shop Boyz and Lil Mama at 7:30 p.m. Saturday (Dec. 8) at Joe Louis Arena, 600 Civic Center Drive, Detroit. Tickets are $69.75, $49.75 and $39.75. Call (313) 471-6606 or visit www.olympiaentertainment.com.

Web Site: www.olympiaentertainment.com

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